Grandparents' love story, family inspires CCMA nominee Jason Blaine

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SASKATOON - Peek into country music artist Jason Blaine's guitar case and you'll see more than just a musical instrument _ tucked into the side is a child's drawing of his family.

There are five figures, all holding hands and smiling. Blaine jokes that he thinks the figure with the long hair is his wife, Amy, and not a depiction of his own mop. Figures of his daughter Grace, who is six, four-year-old son Carter and seven-week-old daughter Sara complete the image.

With the glimpse of that drawing by his eldest daughter, it's clear family provided inspiration for Blaine's fourth record entitled "Life So Far."

"I did a lot of reflecting on this album," he said.

"I began writing it soon after I turned 30. Somewhere along the way between my first album and this album, I became a husband and a father, in that order, and I've just grown a lot personally and professionally. There's been a lot of life lessons learned and what it means to be a father and a husband."

"With this whole album, I really wanted 'Life So Far' to reflect where I'm at in my life and my family."

The latest single "Cool" is about his wife and the baby.

But it's his grandparents that Blaine will be singing about when he takes to the stage Sunday night at the Canadian Country Music Awards in Saskatoon.

His song "They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore" is nominated for single of the year.

The song is the story of his grandparents, Harvey and Marilyn Rutz.

"I thought that their love story, that their years together just made for a great song. My brothers and I always admired how my grandad is just so old-fashioned," Blaine said Friday in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Blaine brought what he calls the "life of love" story to fellow country music artist and friend Deric Ruttan.

"We just sat down all day and we both just shared stories about our grandparents, about our grandfathers and the kind of men they were from that era, from that generation. It's a very heroic generation for this nation," he recalled.

"We just shared stories like, you know those type of guys that combed their hair like Elvis and my grandad pays cash for everything."

It became Blaine's favourite line in the song. A slow melody that started with an E-chord: "He still combs his hair like Elvis. Pays cash for everything."

He says he wanted the music to be something his grandpa _ who thinks Alan Jackson is king _ would appreciate.

"I love many different styles of modern country music. I've been known to record traditional leaning stuff and then a little more rockin' kind of stuff, but I definitely wanted this one to have more a traditional kind of country flavour so it would be something I know he would like too," said Blaine.

"And it just fits the song. So I came up with the guitar intro riff...and Deric and I worked on the chords together. And it just all came together."

When it came time to shoot the video, Blaine, who now lives in Nashville, returned to his hometown of Pembroke, Ont.

He called his grandparents and asked them to be in the video.

"You know at this point in their life, at their age, they said sure, bring it on. And I was surprised because I really didn't know what to expect. They were awesome and they did a great job."

Blaine and Ruttan are nominated for songwriters of the year for "They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore." Blaine is also up for male artist of the year, competing against Gord Bamford, Dean Brody, Chad Brownlee and Johnny Reid.

His grandparents will be there to cheer him on.

"It's really surreal to me that they're going to be at the awards and I'm going to sing this song live on national television and they're going to be there," said Blaine.

"It's a huge honour."

Organizations: Canadian Press

Geographic location: SASKATOON, Nashville, Pembroke

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